Monday 21 October 2019

Quinn Roux to miss Connacht's European Challenge Cup quarter-final as Andy Friend prepares to manage his resources

Quinn Roux being tackled by Rudi van Rooyen of Southern Kings
Quinn Roux being tackled by Rudi van Rooyen of Southern Kings

Ruaidhri O'Connor in Galway

Ireland second-row Quinn Roux looks set to sit out Connacht's European Challenge Cup quarter-final visit to Sale Sharks as Andy Friend manages his squad for a busy end of season run.

For the first time since their 2016 Guinness PRO12 title win, the western province are fighting on two fronts at the business end of the season and the Australian will rotate his squad for the trip to the AJ Bell Stadium.

Currently third in Conference A of the PRO14 and in a battle with Cardiff Blues for a play-off spot, Friend's side are intent on continuing their fine form after a hard-fought win over Benetton in Galway on Friday night.

Bundee Aki could come back into contention after sitting that game out after a hectic period with Ireland, but Roux will continue to be managed after increased involvement in the Six Nations.

Tiernan O'Halloran and captain Jarrad Butler are also available despite coming off injured against the Italians, but they may sit this one out as part of Friend's plans to keep things fresh for the run-in.

"Both are back," he said of Aki and Roux. "We're just monitoring Quinn at this point. He's probably more unlikely than likely unfortunately, but Bundee certainly looks good and is ready to go.

"Quinn copped a little knock the other day and we're conscious that he's played a lot of football this year.

"We're going to need him at the back end of the year and we'll make a decision on him later on in the week.

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"The thing with Quinn, he's already got a week off next week too but we're not going to put him out there if there's a risk of him doing more damage. It's only a slight thing but we'll wait and see.

"Both (O'Halloran and Butler) are available if we want to use them, but they took bangs.

"There are a lot of sore bodies after that Benetton game, it was a really physical affair. We need to be conscious of that and we'll make a decision later in the week on that one.

"We're fighting on both fronts here at the moment but one of the things we're really conscious of, we do need to continue to rotate and move that squad around because you just can't keep putting out the same team week in, week out.

"We have that in mind as we go into selection for this week. PRO14 is really important to us as well but we want to fight on both fronts and we'll pick a team that we think can win."

Connacht have already faced the Sharks twice in the pool stages of the Challenge Cup, losing in Stockport and winning in Galway.

Friend used those games to rotate his squad and is hoping the home side might be a little surprised by the quality of performance the Irish province have been producing in recent times.

"I'd like to think so. I'm really pleased and proud at the way the team is building and growing. It probably kicked off with that Ospreys performance, but to back it up with Benetton performance and have the 'A' group away in Boston winning two games, there's a good buzz around the group.

"They're physical, we saw that in both games we played against them.

"For us, discipline is really important but look, our game is a different game to when we played them on the last two occasions.

"We've got to focus on what we're doing well. I thought our defensive effort against Benetton was outstanding, so we have to bring that again on Friday night and from an attacking point of view, we need to keep asking the questions we've been asking and take our opportunities."

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